David and Wendy are New Zealand Baptists heading to South Asia with a MISSION WORLD strategic mission partner. Rachel Murray, from MISSION WORLD, put some questions to Wendy.
At what stage did you come to understand a specific call of God?
We first were called to serve using our skills and giftings to help people in practical ways – people who without assistance might not be able to help themselves up – simply as an outworking of our faith.
We knew that we also had to be able to articulate why we are compelled to do this – not because we are good people, or because of our love for others, but because of the love that Christ has for these people. We heard a worker sharing about his service in a country that has a very small (and heavily persecuted) church. This affected us both strongly as our eyes were opened to the large parts of the world where so many people struggle and have no idea that there is a God who knows and loves them. This burden developed into a passion which directed us more specifically into cross-cultural biblical training.
How have you prepared for this service overseas?
We both graduated in May from Eastwest College. We studied full time for a Diploma of Intercultural Studies. Dave also studied full time at Carey Baptist College for 18 months to complete his degree in applied theology. During this time I worked as a pastoral nurse through two local churches.
How has work experience and ministry in NZ assisted in your preparation?
Our ministry has enriched and developed us. Dave has been involved in children’s ministry, prison ministry, and refugee resettlement. My pastoral nursing, Mainly Music, worship and women’s ministry has helped me develop strengths and evaluate weaknesses. This time has also given us opportunity to hear God’s direction for where he wants us to serve him abroad.
How have the children adjusted to the idea of leaving NZ?
For four years our children have been involved in ministry and lived with other cultures. Our younger daughter, who has no concept of time or distance, can’t quite grasp it but our eldest daughter is excited, although sad at leaving her friends.
What will your focus be in the early stages?
When we arrive we will be settling in and helping our children to adjust before they start at a local school. Our first 2 years will be devoted to language and culture learning.
What role has your sending church played in your preparation and development to go?
Our sending church has been fantastic; they have partnered with us, prayed for us, and given us the opportunity to get involved in church life and ministry. They have done everything within their power to support us. They also communicate with our sending agency which is very important too – mission is definitely a “team sport!”
What advice and encouragement would you offer to anyone thinking of short or long term service overseas?
Talk with your elders and people who know you well. Most importantly, hear from God. For a short-term trip, see if mission agencies can help with basic preparation for you and your church – find out about the country and culture you’re going to. For long-term service, really seek God’s calling. Study – really know what you know, as what you believe will be challenged. Find out what different agencies require. You need a strong support base so be intentional about strengthening your relationship and communication with your church and supporters.